Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme that centres around book-related questions.This week's question is: Series or stand-alone books?
It's a pretty tough one to answer! I find it difficult to make decisions at the best of times, but I honestly do love both series and stand-alone books. They're totally different reading experiences. So because I can't choose, I've decided to let them battle it out and see who comes out winning (in no way associated with Charlie Sheen).
Round 1: Plot potential
Obviously, stand-alone books can have amazingly intricate plots, but a series just has so much more room for expansion, development and, well, just about everything.
Round 2: Character development
Once again, a stand-alone book can have fantastic character development, while series - despite their length - can sometimes have little to none. But good series allow you to really get to know characters and grow and develop with them, and stand-alone books can't really compete in this area.
Round 3: Commitment
If a book looks too daunting (specifically too long), it can be hard to feel motivated to read it. Sadly, books that look like they require too much commitment are often left languishing on the shelf until I have a decent amount of spare time (which is approximately never). This applies to both mega-sized stand-alones (Shantaram, anyone?) as well as series in general. Series can sometimes trick you if you aren't aware that they ARE in fact series, and instead of reading one book as you intended, you end up reading 10. Then there's series like The Twilight Saga which you can knock out within a (very intense) few days. Still, on the whole, series require way more commitment from a reader, which isn't always a bad thing, but in this case it's a weakness.
Round 4: Enjoyment factor
This all depends on the writing, really. If it's no good, a stand-alone can be just as torturous as a trilogy. However, series risk inconsistency and while you might adore one book, its sequel might make you want to scream. And that can be even more frustrating than if you'd just read one terrible stand-alone story. So, while series can provide more opportunity for enjoyment, there's also a helluva lot more potential for irritation.
Final Round: Closure
If we were comparing an individual book from a series with a stand-alone tale, chances are the latter would definitely win this round. Too often, it seems, series leave a bunch of questions waiting to be answered in subsequent books. But by the time you get to the last book, everything should be effectively resolved. Meanwhile, a stand-alone book can leave you, if not with questions, then at the very least wanting more. Again, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but when it comes to a sense of satisfaction and closure, series tend to win out.
The winner is... series!
OK, I can live with that.